When you live in NYC and take the subway, you have a decision to make each day. Should I take the local or the express train. A few factors may influence your choice: Am I in a hurry? Am I late? Do I want a seat on my journey? Do I want some extra time to read my book (or watch an episode of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)? Decisions, decisions. Since I am lucky enough to LIVE at an express stop, I face this dilemma, like clockwork, every five to six weeks.
You see, I am committed to my hair appointment in Brooklyn. So much so, I make my appointments for the year (dont judge me!). Sometimes I hit the jackpot and get a ride but usually I am relegated to taking the A (express) or C (local) train to Utica Avenue. When Im headed to the shop, Im not conflicted about which train to take. Whichever one rumbles into the station first is the one I will embark. Simple. The dilemma I spoke of above comes into play for my trip home. Task accomplished, head full of freshly-twisted locs looking fab, I want to head uptown as soon as possible for some reason. I allow myself to be seduced by the elongated ‘S’ sound (like Mowgli was by Kaa in Disney’s “Jungle Book”) in the word “express” and I endeavor to wait for the A train.
It’s usually early afternoon and there are always a good number of fellow travelers to keep me company on the platform. One particular day, the incoming train alert sound goes off and the local C train soon after pulls into the station. I hear the Jeopardy tune start to play in my head. “Stop it,” I tell myself, “Im going to wait for the A train.” But the tune gets louder. I see my platform companions moving toward the soon to stop train. They position themselves, just so, in order to be in perfect alignment when the doors open. Therefore raising the probability of acquiring a prime real estate seat. Never mind that the riders already on the train need to exit and cannot do so with oncoming riders pushing past them to enter the train and why dont they see this is sheer madness? *SIGH*…I digress. I feel myself leaning out to look into the black tunnel for a sign of my train. Nothing. Still have time to catch the C train. The doors are open as the conductors voice comes through the speakers announcing the current station stop, the upcoming station stop and the final terminal station stop. Jeopardy tune is still playing 🎶. I’m unconsciously walking to the local as a monologue of thoughts unfold in my mind. “You might as well get on this. Why are you waiting? Its here now. You better get on it now! NOW!! Who knows how long the A is gonna take? Its seats on there too. Why is it always the local that comes first? *sound of sucking teeth* This is ridiculous!!” (On that last question, my human mind, in the moment, cannot fathom that my arrival to the train station does not dictate which train arrives first.) Im distracted with anxiety, based on my thoughts. I take a few more steps, then I stop. The C train closes its doors and, with a hiss of machinery, pulls out of the station. Im left standing on the platform feeling like I missed the last train that will ever head uptown.
Not three minutes later, the A train comes screeching into the station. And I got a seat…BOOM! As the train sped by the local station stops, I saw that C train I thought would be the last train out of Brooklyn. The train I endeavored to wait for amidst temptation and fretting, did arrive, and was now overtaking the other. I had lost nothing and, in fact, would come out ahead. In that moment I heard the word “impatience” and instantly saw a spiritual correlation. I chuckled to myself because I understood. How much peace do I forfeit by my impatience? How much stress do I inflict upon myself with worry or fretting? Matthew 6:27 tells me worrying and fretting serve me naught. Whereas, patience is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). One comes naturally, the other takes practice. In this fast-paced life we live, immediacy is now the norm. If something takes time and has to develop, it runs the risk of being cast aside as useless for more readily available results. God doesn’t work that way. And Im glad He does not. He’s never rushed nor in a hurry. He IS time and the definition of patience (2 Peter 3:8-9). If He starts it, He will finish it (Philippians 1:6). On that day, my train ride dilemma reminded me to be patient. I will get where I need to be. I dont have to worry about missing the train. I know the conductor.